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Aloha!

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The state flower is the yellow Hibiscus. The state bird is the Nene. The state fish is the Humuhumunukunukuapua. The next time your crossword puzzle asks about our 50th state, you can thank me.

We are exploring Hawaii, our exotic state that is 2,397 miles west of San Francisco, but you can mail a postcard to Oklahoma for the same price as across town. Before becoming part of the United States, Hawaii was once an independent kingdom. Several flags have flown over this chain of islands including Russia, France, and Britain. The Hawaiian flag was designed at the request of King Kamehamameha I. It consists of eight stripes of red, white and blue that represent the eight main islands. The Union Jack of the United Kingdom fills the upper left corner, a nod to the historical relationship with the British. If it comes up in crosswords, it is the only US state flag with a foreign flag as part of the design.

Everyone has dreamed of getting away from it all and moving to the Aloha state, and why not? Hawaii is the most isolated populated place on the face of the Earth. This means you can travel past a lot of nothing to be in the highest population density in the USA. They even have their own time zone. But it might be worth it. Hawaiians’ life expectancy for males is 75 years, for females, it is 80 - the highest in the US.

Don’t worry about being so far away you have to give up your wheels. On the island of Oahu, residents own 600,000 vehicles, but only have 1,500 miles of mostly two lane roads to drive.

Children are still taught their native language in school. I thought this might be a break since the Hawaiian alphabet consists of only twelve letters, seven consonants and five vowels. The vowels are always sounded; no silent, “tricky” stuff. But then I saw some of the street names and realized like the state fish, they like to use those twelve letters over and over. I might not ever learn my address.

You could guess that the state dance is the hula. We had Hawaiian Ambassadors onboard our cruise ship giving informative talks on the Polynesian culture including hula dance lessons. The men, along with the women, use their entire body to tell stories. Graceful hand movements, swaying hips, lovely skin accented with fresh greenery and flowers....it’s no wonder we all fall in love with the beauty of the hula. Just for the record, Oklahoma has a state dance, too. The folk dance - the square dance. Maybe not quite as romantic.